For Hallowe’en …

… An interactive graphic novel.

It’s probably not for the faint of heart in education.  After all, so many have lost the term “Hallowe’en” in favour of “Black and Orange” day even though the term is used everywhere else in society.

If you’re a horror movie fan, then this weekend with Turner Classic Movies was just great.  It had been years since I enjoyed the 1931 Dracula movie with Bela Lugosi.  There was Lugosi before there was Vincent Price.  And, Vincent Price turned so many stories into masterpieces.  His efforts with Edgar Allan Poe’s stories are legend.

I have a collection of Poe’s novels on the bookshelf behind me but I’ve never seen his works in graphic novel format.  A recent post from Richard Byrne “7 Halloween Lesson Activities for Elementary School Students” turned me on to one.

The site is “The Pit and the Pendulum – Interactive Comic Book“.

If you’re a fan of Poe or the genre, the site is rich in background including details about the Spanish Inquisition which set the scene for Poe’s novel.  

There are two stars of the multimedia show here.  One is the video “The Pit and the Pendulum short film“.  The second is the graphic novel, available in PDF format from the site.

But, Doug.  I’ve heard that PDF is where good ideas go to die.

That’s a sound bite from a professional speaker.  It’s sad when a wide-sweeping generalization is made like that.  

PDF files can be so much more.

This graphic novel demonstrates that.  You could print it out, bind it, and read it.  But you’d be missing the important interactive part.

As you read through the novel, you’ll find QR Codes – you know what to do – scan them and you’ll be whisked away somewhere.  More than that, though, keep your eyes open as you read the book.  And keep your mouse moving.  

You’ll discover mouse overs that link from the novel to the web as well.  Some resolve to Vimeo videos, others to web resources.  It brings the experience alive.

It’s a wonderful merger of a great novel and technology.  You’ll absolutely want to preview it to see if it is appropriate for your classroom.  

If you want a new look at a classic, I think you’ll find it very engaging.  And, it might give you a few ideas for constructing something similar for yourself.


OTR Links 10/31/2016

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Whatever happened to …

… Google Reader?

The idea for this post came from @mauilbrarian2 who claims in the padlet

I was a huge Google Reader fan!

Now I get by with Feedly. And bookmarked Twitter searches. And for must-see-daily topics. And to a lesser degree, Google+ notifications.  

I’d almost forgotten about Google Reader.  It was a terrific product at the time and I used it on a daily basis as well.  It was a news curator; you just feed it the feed (in the beginning RSS) and it brought the latest and greatest news to you.  Then, one day, Google announced that it was going to discontinue the service.  I suppose that the closest thing that Google provides now is Google News which does collect news stories.  And, often, there are stories that interest me.  It’s just that I’m not in complete control of what I read.
Like @mauilbrarian2, I followed the advice given at the time of the announcement that the Reader service was going to go away and moved my collection to Feedly.  In a strange case of doing things right, by accident, I had told my instance of Flipboard to include Google Reader when I originally set it up.  Flipboard appears to have done what the move to Feedly did, it ignored the Google part and imported all the news feeds into its format.  So, in reality, I have everything that I always had with Google Reader tucked away into Flipboard.  Win for me.
Feedly is a terrific service and I had my bookmarks good to go and would add new ones as they came along.  Then, on day, Stephen Downes shared his entire list via an OPML file.  This was the holy grail of collections from my perspective.  If you follow Stephen or subscribe to his OLDaily, you know that he’s one of the most read researchers you’ll come across.  Some of the topics that he writes and offers commentary about are over my head but that’s OK.  There’s plenty of other things to read and learn from.
Similarly, I had a collection of bookmarked Twitter searches.  I think it only makes sense.  It’s here that you get news on interesting topics – as they happen.  It’s nothing for me to watch the news and do a search for a term while watching the news.  At times, I get more current results than what is being currently read to me by the news anchor.  I think it’s also important to the connected citizen that you search and monitor yourself on social media.  As a result, I have a standing search for “dougpete” and “” in my Hootsuite browser.  I don’t want to miss anything.
I’m a big fan of Ontario Education bloggers and have them curated in a couple of places – a Livebinder and a Scoopit feed.  They have essentially the same content but are displayed in different ways.
I also like to think that I’m connected to the best of the web.  I use to pull together the latest from them.  At one time, I used to keep it to myself but I was showing it to someone once and they said “It’s too bad that I can’t read that”.  Well, has a publish to Twitter feature and so you’ll see Twitter messages from me periodically showing what has found.

The only limitation is that I have no control over the content that’s generated. does the heavy lifting from the people who are on the lists (they’re generated from Twitter lists).  So, if someone goes off the deep end, it might end up as a curated story here <gasp>.  It’s called living on the wild side.  Since the bulk of who I follow are educators and technology people/things, they’re pretty much focused on those topics.  A neat feature is that shuffles “how” the message is formed and will often tag people who contribute.

Who doesn’t like to follow a good contributor or hashtag?  For me, it was a “set it and forget it” operation.  It’s all automated and I (and anyone else who cares) gets the benefits from reading the stories that are curated.

Now it’s time for your thoughts.

  • Were you a user of Google Reader?  How did its demise affect you?
  • Do you have a favourite news reading service or technique?  How about sharing it here?
  • How do you monitor your social media profile?
  • Do you share or retweet stories that you read and find interesting so that others can enjoy it as well?

As always on a Sunday, I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Please share them via comment below.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts like @mauilbrarian2 did?  They can all, by the way, be revisited here.

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

OTR Links 10/30/2016

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Visiting a Warship

Living near the Detroit River, we get the opportunity to see many types of boats and ships going up and down the river.  Lots of pleasure craft, lake and ocean shippers, and the occasional Coast Guard boat are regular sightings.

This was something different.  The United States Navy had just commissioned the USS Detroit (LCS-7) and it was docked on the Canadian side of the river at Dieppe Park at the foot of Ouellette Avenue in Windsor.  It was an opportunity to see (fairly) up close one of the latest additions to the US Navy.  So, we took off nice and early to check it out.  I’d done some reading and it certainly sounded impressive.  

Fastest warship in U.S. fleet visits Windsor.

Sadly, there wasn’t a public tour that we could find but we did park and walk up to check it out.  

While it was docked right alone the edge of the river, it wasn’t possible to get very close due to the fencing in place to keep us away.  Taking a picture was pretty tough; there were lots of trees and machinery in the road so any picture I could take wouldn’t really do it justice.

It’s tough to describe the ship.  It’s certainly not attractive by cruise ship status.  The best description that I could think was that it appeared to be like a floating tank.  Two shades of grey and that’s about it.  You’re left to guess at the functionality of everything that you could see.  On the other hand, it was never the intention to win a beauty contest; there’s no doubt that it’s a military ship and it looked every bit of it.  I’m sure that, to the right eyes, it was a very beautiful ship.  The link above shows some professional pictures from the local newspaper.

But, it has a website!  And a presence on Facebook.

And you have an opportunity to take a virtual tour.

The tour incorporates 360 degree visuals and videos.  These all add to the impressiveness of the ship.  It’s well worth the time to explore a bit.  I can’t help but remark that the bridge certainly resembles the bridge of the Enterprise from Star Trek.

So, Canada was its first foreign port of call.  It’s nice that the first such visit was to a friendly country.

Awe isn’t a word that I use in this context very often.  But, being this close to the Detroit, I can’t think of a better word to describe the experience.